Republican Scott Brown has won the US Senate seat in Massachusetts, breaking the grip held on Congress by the Democrats and President Obama.
It gives the Republican party a crucial 41st seat in the 100-seat Senate, meaning it can hinder the passage of reforms, starting with the controversial bill on healthcare that is still going through Congress.
After beating his Democrat rival Martha Coakley, Brown told his delighted supporters:
“One thing is very, very clear as I travelled throughout the state: people do not want the trillion dollar healthcare plan that is being forced to the American people. And this bill is not being debated openly and fairly; it will raise taxes…it will raise taxes, it will hurt medicare, it will destroy jobs and run our nation deeper into debt.”
Ironically, Brown is taking up the seat left vacant by the late Democrat senator Ted Kennedy, a staunch supporter of healthcare reform.
The healthcare bill could still pass if it arrives on Obama’s desk before Brown takes office but it gives Democrats much less room for manouvre. The Democrats do still have a majority in the Senate but Brown’s win deprives them of enough of a majority to ignore Republican objections.
Today is the first anniversary of Obama’s inauguration. Losing one ofhis Democrat senators is an anniversary gift he will certainly not have wanted.